Like anyone of a red persuasion at the Silverlake Stadium this afternoon, Fleet boss Kevin Watson was disappointed to come away with only a point this afternoon after his side saw two penalties missed, confessing that he “was lost for words”.
But the manager, having overseen just one defeat in the last eight games, said disappointment with a point at Eastleigh is a mark of how far his side have progressed.
“We’re getting to a point now where we’ve come away to Eastleigh, a difficult place, and no-one would complain if we’d won that game 3-1 or 4-1,” he told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “Based on how we played second-half, we’re disappointed, we’re very disappointed. I’m proud of them, it’s been a tough week. Reidy’s hit the crossbar as well.
“They’re in there deflated but the positives out of it are that all of a sudden, it’s one defeat in eight. Yes, there’s a lot of draws but we’re still picking up points and moving and the scoreboard’s ticking along.
“But it’s deflating when you come to a place like Eastleigh who are notoriously good at home and you play like that in a manner that you should score three or four goals. Forget the penalties, we’ve played superbly today so to not come away with a win is deflating. But I’ve just said in there, we are now disappointed coming to Eastleigh and not winning a game, that’s how much we’ve improved.”
Try as one might to forget the penalties, they were of course the talking point from a game that exploded into life in the final 20 minutes. And Watson reflected that another player should have stepped up to the mark for the first spot-kick.
“Gozie would have been the penalty taker,” he confirmed. “However, Josh has come on, got the penalty. Was it the right decision that he’s taken it 20 seconds after coming on? He will probably feel he’s earned the penalty and earned the right to take it and then Frankie’s scored 11 out of 11 for Bromley last year. so you don’t expect him to miss.
“There was every case for Myles Weston to take it and I would like people to step up to the plate. If it was me I would have said Josh, you’ve only been on the pitch 20 seconds, you’ve had one touch of the ball and been dragged over. Take ownership of it to the rest of the players. That I was disappointed with.
“Nobody misses penalties on purpose, but I thought that was a bad decision. It’s nothing to do with Josh’s ability but when you come on and you’ve had one touch, you’re not even into the game yet… So I thought someone else should have taken the first penalty, yes. But Frankie took ownership of the second, looked confident. We only have ourselves to blame for not winning the game in what was a very good display.”
There was more than a hint of offside about Eastleigh’s opener without having seen the incident back since and Watson felt the same way.
“We’re disappointed with the goal,” he said. “I’ll have to watch it back. It looked miles offside but I’ll have to see if that’s just a bad decision. If it wasn’t it’s poor defending.”
That said, the manager praised his side’s defending in the 90 minutes as well as the ongoing improvement generally.
“We’re looking more solid the last couple of games, going to a back four. The last two games, we’ve conceded two goals and there was a point in the season where that was quite a bit more so I know we’re always going to create chances and score goals. The issue has been keeping them out at the other end but I think you could see today we looked pretty solid.”
Fleet deployed a back four with goalscorer Weston initially given something of a free role and it worked well away from home.
“I do like playing a back three but games were becoming like a basketball match, you attack, we attack and we looked a bit loose doing it,” Watson explained. “So my thoughts behind it are can we be more solid? We’re still always going to create chances. I said to Westy to play where you want. I knew Eastleigh would play three in the middle of the pitch. I matched those up, put a back four in, had my front two and I said to Westy go and play where you like. He did, got his goal and then I went to a 4-4-2 because their wing backs were getting a little bit too much time out on the sides. But the shape looked good second-half and we looked a real threat going forward.”
Listen below (and apologies for the background fan noise!).